#1 – When you are in a casual relationship with someone – friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. – you are both pretty much free to “do your own thing.” Those relationships allow each person to make decisions and live life as they prefer. Yes, there may be times you need to coordinate efforts to allow positive, successful outcomes through congenial camaraderie; but, it mostly ends there.
#2 – Compare that to the more formal, intimate relationship of marriage. In order for this relationship to experience success, the partners really do need to have a higher level of cooperation. “Married couples…have to be on the same page to function well. They need to make decisions together – to have the same vision, work toward the same goals, dream the same dreams. The more that happens, the more satisfying the relationship is.” (Chris Tiegreen)
So which of those relationship descriptions do you think will function best for a successful, satisfying relationship with God?
It should be obvious that the answer is #2. However, all too many people treat their relationship with God more casually as in description #1. They call on God when a need arises in their life where they need help. They hope that their friendship will lend itself to a positive, successful outcome; and, many times it will. Then they will just move on and live their life.
Have you ever had anyone in your life that made you feel used? They call you when they need something, then they disappear again until the next need arises. It may just be some positive reinforcement or it may be a more complex need. Regardless, it is not a very good feeling to be treated in that manner. I have had some of those people in my life, so I know.
That must be how God feels when we call on Him when there is a need, only to pretty much disappear from the relationship until the next time. Even when you care deeply/love someone, it gets old to be treated with that level of disrespect. Obviously in a closer relationship you want and expect more. If a married couple were to treat each other in that manner, the chance of a long-term successful, happy marriage is very low.
But, how do you get to a level with someone where you can function as one? You must learn all that you can about them of course and then spend quality time together. Therefore, we need to consider our relationship with God as a more special, long-term, intimate one. We need to view it as one where we do have the same visions, same goals, same dreams. If you call yourself a Christian that should be true.
In order to learn what the visions, goals and dreams of God are, we need to spend time in His presence. That means we need to read the Bible. We need to spend time meditating on what we read. We need to spend time talking to Him in prayer. It is not asking too much for you to set aside some time each day devoted just to Him with the end goal of deepening your relationship.
Consider this. If a husband and wife only spent 30 to 60 minutes together each day – or even less – how could they ever expect the marriage to thrive? The likelihood of success is extremely low. Even if they manage to stay together, the level of true happiness will be very low or non-existent. Yet some people cannot devote 30 to 60 minutes a day to the most important relationship in their life – the one with God. How can it ever be a truly intimate, successful one?
I will tell you honestly that for the majority of my life, I had a much too casual relationship with God. I felt a strong pull on my life from God at a very early age (about 7 years old.) Then I got saved at a church camp when I was in the 4th grade. But my spiritual life was up and down and all over the place for too much of my life. Part of that was because I did not have any strong examples of good teaching/guidance after getting saved. Then when I was about 24 years old I had a very real and deep encounter with God that truly changed my life. Fortunately, at that point I did have some strong teaching, examples and guidance before me. I did learn at that point to spend more time with God and for a number of years I felt His presence in a very special way. I would like to be able to proclaim that from that point on I was a model Christian, but if I said that, it would be a lie. Life happened and then my spiritual experiences became something like a roller coaster ride. I fell away only to return many times in the last 50 years.
What I can tell you though, is that when I committed to a time with God each day, my life did change. My relationship with Him has deepened and my faith has increased. I try to make my devoted time with him the first thing I do each morning after brewing my first cup of coffee. I spend time in prayer, first thanking Him for all of my blessings and answers to prayer – then presenting the needs I know about for myself and others. After that I read a daily devotional and then have my daily Bible reading. The time I spend varies (it is usually less than an hour) but I always feel better when I am done.
It is during those times that I sense God “speaking” to me. I sense Him in my spirit prompting me about things I should do. It is also during those times that I usually get my inspiration for the articles that I write each week for this blog – there are times that the idea flows into me so fast I can barely write fast enough to get it all down. Other times I get the idea then have to do some research, always learning something valuable for myself.
So, if you see yourself in a more casual relationship with God, I would encourage you to step it up and work a little harder to make it a stronger, more intimate one. Decide on a time that works best for you and your schedule to spend some quality time with Him each day and do not let Satan deter you, because he will try. You will not ever regret it.
As you grow closer to Him you will definitely experience a more successful relationship; and that will strengthen all of your other relationships as well. You will learn that throughout your day, as you need encouragement or guidance you can call on Him at that time. It never has to be reserved for a time set aside – He is always available.
“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” (1 Thes. 5:16-18 MSG)
“‘When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.’” (Jeremiah 29:12-13 MSG)
“Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 TPT)
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:5-7 NLT)
Here’s to success!
Written by Karran Martin – July 7, 2021